Ironically, the word Despacito translates as ‘slowly’ in Spanish. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s collaboration has been anything but slow.
Within weeks of being crowned the most streamed song of all time with 4.6 billion streams globally (June 2017), Despacito has gone and outdone itself by nabbing the title of the Most Viewed video in the history of YouTube…within 7 months!
With more than 3.4 billion YouTube views (and counting), it’s officially the most-watched video of 2017 in more than 40 countries. Managing to surpass the title holder for 4 years straight Psy, Gangnam Style, and Khalifa ft Puth’s See You Again. Fast & Furious’ tribute to the late Paul Walker took two long years to achieve Most Viewed status on YouTube, only to be knocked off weeks later by Despacito.
“We’re living in an interesting time right now when people want to divide us. They want to build walls. And for a song to bring people and cultures together, that’s what makes me proud.” Fonsi
Despacito has truly captured the imagination and ears of people all over the world. Even if you don’t understand the lyrics, or have never really been a fan of Latino music — this song hits every spot. It makes you want to dance, even those with minus rhythm, and all of a sudden you’re pretty confident that you could pass as a native Spanish speaker.
Fonsi’s top two most viewed songs on his YouTube channel are Despacito (3.4B) and the Justin Bieber version (500M). Interestingly, his next most viewed song, Aqui Estoy Yo (another collaboration), from 8 years ago has ‘only’ 246M views. Don’t get me wrong, almost 250M views is pretty impressive, even for mega superstars. But it doesn’t even come close to Despacito.
Take some of my favourite music collabs, for example:
- Dr Dre ft Snoop — Still Dre and I Need a Dr ft Eminem. As someone who’s been in the game for a hot minute, Dre truly is the king of musical collabs.
- Jay-Z ft Linkin Park (RIP Chester) — Numb. One of my all time favourites, Numb has almost twice as many views as their second video highest, In The End.
- Pink ft Nate Ruess — Just Give Me a Reason. With over 700M views, it’s the most successful video on her YouTube channel. Ten times more views than the incredible Just Like a Pill.
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton
Take a look at some of the most successful power couples like Jay-Z & Beyoncé, David & Victoria Beckham, Michelle & Barack Obama and Bill & Melinda Gates. All successful in their own right, but together they are a formidable duo. Why does the business world seem to have an aversion to collaborative partnerships? The truth of the matter is that most collabs are with what people might consider the C word — competitors!
What does the success of Despacito show entrepreneurs and businesses about the power of collaboration?
The C Word
#1 — Competition
Some might argue that competition is necessary to fueling and improving creativity, as you’re driven to think outside the box, and follow your gut when solving problems. However, David Mizne says competition “shuts down the part of the brain that sparks innovative thoughts which can keep businesses steps ahead of their competitors”.
The advantage of focusing on creativity and customers, over competition, is down to simple biology. The way our brain reacts in “fight or flight” mode does not allow access to higher brain function necessary to creativity. Don’t become so distracted by the latest product releases from competitors, at the expense of optimising what is right in front of you.
The temptation is to closely guard your ideas, creating a super competitive environment void of trust and creativity. By sharing your ideas, it stimulates unrestricted collective intelligence, where ideas spark and creative innovation flows.
And if someone decides to steal your idea, so what? Chances are you’ll have a million other ones, besides success is in the delivery. They might have taken your idea, but they don’t have your vision or your thought process.
“The lightning spark of thought generated in the solitary mind awakens its likeness in another mind.” — Thomas Carlyle
ACTION: Find out what your customers think is missing, or what other solutions they use in addition to yours to achieve their desired outcome. Can you build that into your solution or even build an integration with a competitor’s tool to make yours more comprehensive. Customers don’t want to use multiple tools if one will take care of everything. And they’re happy to pay a premium for an all-in-one solution.
#2 — Coopertition
So what about collaborating with your competitors (aka coopertition), surely that’s a big no-no? However, businesses are embracing coopertition with the goal of complementing each other’s strengths and maintaining their collective competitive advantage against perhaps a bigger, stronger competitor.
Speed is of the essence in competitive markets and together, they can set industry standards. A great example of this is Microsoft’s $26.2B acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016, which garnered speculation about whether it was hugely overvalued. However, considering they want to compete with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google, this kind of deal makes sense.
“No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.” — Althea Gibson
In fact Flock Global is “a curated global network built on collaboration”, based on the vision of a marketplace of entrepreneurs based entirely on collaboration, “where business is done entirely collaboratively and people don’t seek to compete”.
Flock Global are building on the principle that collaboration is just a different form of competition, so rather than trying to surpass your competitor, you join forces to become an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. Essentially, it’s strength in numbers, a tactic that has been used by armies for centuries.
ACTION: It’s can be hard to see the forest for the trees when assessing your own business, so ask a partner their opinion on where you can improve — and offer the same in return. You will be able to gain some invaluable lessons by critically analysing a service aimed at a similar audience to yours. You might even be able to inject some of those lessons back into your current strategy.
#3 — Collaboration
Reading Richard Branson’s recent article on collaboration, highlighted that living in a digital age, we have the world at our fingertips — all we have to do is reach out to those around us. Having the ability to create and maintain fruitful collaborations, gives companies a significant competitive leg up — collaborative advantage.
“It takes two flints to make a fire.” — Louisa May Alcott
Effective collaboration requires structure, processes, and skill in order to bridge organisational and interpersonal differences and achieve real value from the partnership. By collaborating, you are effectively sharing the financial burden, rather than hiring a specialist, you can lean on someone in your network to advise or mentor you. This gives you access to expertise at the pace that our digital world demands.
Businesses that collaborate are more nimble, more efficient, have better cost control and are more likely to succeed. It’s simply not possible for companies to be good at every single thing, and those who try to be all things to all people usually end up being nothing to everyone. A partner may find a new way to look at your business or help you simplify your offering in a way that your target audience is more receptive to.
ACTION: Focus on pinpointing processes with low efficiency and where the lowest return on money comes from. Essentially outlining any low hanging fruit, creates an opportunity to offer expert advice and support.
So you’re convinced of the power of collaboration, but where do you start?
Rule 101 in business — know your audience and market! Spend a bit of time examining the market, speak to current customers, find out why they love your product and what their biggest pain points are. In many cases, the most valuable insights actually come from consumer feedback, so don’t overlook their opinion.
Understanding why your customers came to you in the first place, can further develop your product, offering them a more comprehensive solution. Now that’s not to say that you have to take everyone’s opinions to heart. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to become so overwhelmed with the problem that you end up with an unnecessarily convoluted solution.
Considering that businesses are disappearing 6x faster than they did 40 years ago, being responsive to your customers ongoing needs is essential to maintaining a competitive and strategic advantage. Even small companies with a super niche audience or decent credentials, have the power to compete against the big dogs by listening to their customers.
Reacting and adapting to new industry trends, without the burden of layers of regulatory policies, processes and hierarchy, is a huge advantage that SMEs have over large business.
ACTION: Although seemingly counter intuitive, try to think beyond the financial element when surveying your customers. Decisions purely based on the projected financial outcome can result in prospective customers becoming test subjects, and limit the creativity needed to open up bigger opportunities. Rather than trying to force campaigns down the unsuspecting throats of your partner’s audience, think about how you can provide value to them based on their needs and build their trust levels. This is the only way to build long lasting customer relationships.
Build a Network
PeopleBrowsr analyzed Twitter data, and the results showed that globally there are only four degrees of separation: industries are three degrees apart, and niche interests only two. Meaning you’re only two connections away from someone in your niche industry — a potential collaborative partner. Living in a digital age, we’re able to network on a global scale just with the click of a button.
Whilst your network can be one of your most powerful assets. However, not everyone has the skills to build a network and it doesn’t happen overnight. It requires you to be proactive, make strategic choices and choose quality over quantity.
One of your most valuable assets in business is social capital — creating and maintaining a network of authentic relationships. Your ability to collaborate with those who share your values and reach higher levels of success is your net worth!
‘Poor networking is when you mistake activity for productivity’
Don’t assume that making it rain business cards from the balcony of every meetup and industry event you attend, is enough. Take the time to genuinely connect with people on more than a business level, and then nurture those relationships.
The most powerful partnerships are when professionals build mutually beneficial, genuine relationships. Don’t treat everyone you meet as a prospective addition to your ‘squad’. An authentic connection is something that can’t be forced.
There’s nothing wrong with embracing what your network can do for you, and allowing it to advance your career, but don’t do it at the expense of others. You might be surprised when the person you least expect to help out, suddenly jumps to your aide.
Avoid sociopathic tactics, where people are seen as a stepping stone, and are forgotten once they aren’t immediately relevant to your goals. Instead, be willing to help others without any ulterior motive. It goes without saying, your time is valuable, so be strategic and identify opportunities that not only align with your values, but also provide the best opportunities.
Mixing with people with the same experience and mindset won’t necessarily challenge you to think beyond your own understanding. Diversity and variety is the spice of life, and it’s especially powerful when you can incorporate it into your business network.
ACTION: Make the time to attend meetups or events that aren’t specifically in your industry. Force yourself to break out of your comfort zone by going alone. Networking comes in all shapes and sizes, even grabbing coffee, lunch, or a monthly skype call — as long as you’re consistent. Don’t be the fair-weathered friend, only popping up when you need or want a favour. People will start to resent you, and once that creeps in, it can be fatal.
The partnership between Fonsi and Daddy Yankee is a fantastic example of a strategic partnership. Pre-Despacito, Daddy Yankee’s songs racked up almost 3B views on YouTube. Fonsi has over 1B views, no doubt significantly helped by exposure on the back of his recent #1 song. A collaboration between these highly successful musicians was the ingredients for a creative masterpiece.
“By looking for partnerships and collaborating externally, companies are able to innovate much more quickly and even create solutions to problems that may not be prevalent issues yet.” Fast Company
Coined by Andrew Davis, brandscaping is “leveraging the audiences of others for the benefit of both partners”. Davis outlines three simple benefits to partnerships: they’re better, faster and cheaper than almost any other form of marketing.
Tapping into your network of entrepreneurs or businesses that offer complementary services, is not only good for your brand but also adds value to your current customers. The key is partnering up with experienced people, with similar ethics and motives as you, and benefit from their years of hard work and expertise, potentially reducing time to market on new products.
A successful partnership will enhance both brands and increases awareness — a cost effective synergy combining two brand budgets and marketing efforts. When forming partnerships, you need to think long term. By doing this you will reap the rewards, as it garners a bond and sense of trust.
Don’t treat it like a business ‘fling’, rather a ‘marriage’ of sorts. A partner might even come in the form of a freelancer or consultant, so take the time to make sure they feel like they are a valuable asset to the team. You never want your partner to think you’re only using them for their expertise.
“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” — H.E. Luccock
Another great example of a successful strategic partnership was between Converse and Guitar Center. Converse realised celebrities were the key to increasing sales. However, signing celeb endorsements is a very expensive process, so they took a more tactical approach or as I like to refer to it ‘Sniper from the Side’.
Converse and Guitar Centre collaborated on a top of the range recording studio, creating weekly YouTube videos. Guitar Centre provided unlimited access to up and coming musicians. All the musicians were of course kitted out with free Converse gear. Not only did Guitar Center benefit from an audience of Converse fans who love music, but Converse was worn by musicians for all their fans to see — win win! Check out Hubspot and Forbes for some of the best co-branding partnerships
ACTION: Agreeing a revenue share deal that works for both partners is essential. Decide what segment of their customers are relevant to your business, and then figure out how much access to those leads is worth.
Co-branding is a really quick and effective way to boost brand awareness, reach new audiences and grow your business. Marketers out there will be very familiar with this strategic marketing and advertising technique. Two brands harness their individual success to create a super power, essentially a business power couple.
Collaborative content, such as a joint case study, combines insights gained from both perspectives, far outweighing insights from just one. Anyone in content marketing (guilty as charged!), will know it’s a very slow process. However, guest blogging with strategic partners is a sure way to increase reach, whilst also being significantly cheaper than any PPC strategy.
ACTION: Reach out to your contacts within the industry, find out if they accept guest blogs and offer them the opportunity to provide content for your blog. Make sure you have your blog statistics prepared beforehand.
The concept of collaboration is nothing new, but being able to strategically use it to your professional gain is priceless. Look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs, their ability to maintain and maximise valuable relationships is what sets them apart from the average entrepreneur.
Nothing worth having ever comes easy, so be patient and allow authentic partnerships to develop. Take a leaf out of Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s book, a strategic collaboration might just be what your business needs!